Repossession 'threatens families'

Updated: 
Person looking despondentAs many as one home in every street in some places of England are at risk of being repossessed, according to a housing and homelessness charity.

Unemployment and the high cost of living are leaving many households on a "knife-edge", Shelter said.


The number of possession claims across England has increased, according to figures released by the charity which it says are based on a combination of Ministry of Justice statistics and 2011 census data.

The figures relate to possession claims, which are applications made to a court by lenders and landlords to repossess a house, the first step to get a possession order.
Between July last year and June the biggest increase in possession and eviction claims was recorded in Richmondshire, North Yorkshire, rocketing by 80.3%.

Newham in East London has the highest number of homes at risk of being repossessed, at one in every 35. That could be one house on every street in the area where a family may be made homeless, Shelter said.

Outside of London, Wolverhampton has the highest claim rate for possessions at one in every 59 homes under threat, followed closely by Nottingham, Salford, Peterborough and Luton where each place has one in every 63 homes are at risk of being repossessed.

In the London borough of Brent, 2,747 homes are at risk, as of June this year, rising from 1,997 in the same month last year, up 37.6%.

West Somerset closely follows Richmondshire with 65.7% more possession claims, while Watford has a 50.8% increase.

Following Newham, in the top 10 areas of England with the most repossession and eviction claims, are Haringey and Barking and Dagenham, each with one in every 37 homes at risk.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: "This research shows that thousands of families all over England are dealing with the devastating possibility of losing their home. In some places as many as one home in every street is now at risk.

"With less job security and the rising cost of living and housing these days, many more families are finding themselves living on a knife-edge. Just one thing, like a job loss or illness, could tip them into a spiral that puts their home at risk.

"It's right we create a welfare system that's fair but government changes to the safety net are leaving ordinary families exposed. We must protect the safety net so that if people fall on hard times, they can get the help they need to get back on their feet."

A Government spokesperson said: "Latest figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders show the numbers of home repossessions haven fallen 8% over the past 12 months and are at their lowest level for six years.

"But we are not complacent. Our welfare reforms are ensuring that clear protection is in place, we've maintained the Support for Mortgage Interest scheme and our £470 million funding to councils means we continue to have a strong safety net against homelessness.

"We know times are tough and that is why we are taking action to help families with the cost of living by cutting income tax for 25 million people, which will save a typical taxpayer over £700, taking 2.7 million out of income tax altogether and freezing council tax for five years, saving a typical household £600."